The dithyramb, a choral song associated mostly with the god Dionysos, is the longest-surviving form of collective performance in Greek culture, lasting in its shifting shapes from the seventh century BC into late antiquity. Yet it has always stood in the shadow of its more glamorous relations - tragedy, comedy, and the satyr-play. This volume, with contributions from international experts in the field, is the first to look at dithyramb in its entirety, understanding it as an important social and cultural phenomenon of Greek antiquity.
Dithyramb in Context explores the idea that the dithyramb is much more than a complex poetic form: the history of the dithyramb is a history of changing performance cultures which form part of a continuous social process. How the dithyramb functions as a marker, as well as a carrier, of social change throughout Greek antiquity is expressed in themes as various as performance and ritual, poetics and intertextuality, music and dance, and history and politics. Drawing together literary critics, historians of religion, archaeologists, epigraphers, and historians, this volume applies a wide historical and geographical framework, scrutinizing the poetry and, for the first time, giving due weight to the evidence of epigraphy and the visual arts.